Doing hard things

I get to work each morning and regularly write down (in Day One) my MITs (Most Important Tasks). These are tasks that typically are important but not necessarily urgent, and getting them done will move my work forward in a meaningful way.

Yesterday I wrote down four tasks that had been nagging at me, none of which would take much time to complete. But each of them had enough friction or resistance to keep me from getting started on them. I did none of them yesterday. How could I get through the day and not start on even one of the tasks I had deemed most important?

I went home with those tasks still tugging at me, draining some mental energy that could have been better spent elsewhere. So, today, I just started, even though I didn’t feel inspired, and got three of the four done.

While the tasks weren’t complex, they each required some creativity, some thoughtfulness about how to express myself. And that can seem hard.

I often wait for inspiration to strike on those kinds of projects. Haven’t I learned that starting usually comes before inspiration? I may think, “I’ve got nothing”, but once I start I tend to come up with something. That something may be terrible, but it often primes my brain for another something that’s at least a little better.

I recently read about the McDonald’s Theory. You know what it’s like when friends can’t decide where to go to lunch together and everyone seems stymied? Just say, “Let’s go to McDonald’s!” Then, everyone suddenly comes up with lots of great lunch ideas because no one (usually) wants to go to McDonald’s.

Starting with something terrible gets you over the hump of having nothing, and then you can move on to something better than terrible.

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